Peters has got this one dead right

MICHAEL LAWS
Last updated 05:00 05/08/2012
WINSTON PETERS
ANDY JACKSON
WINSTON PETERS: Fuming.

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OPINION: Gay people want to marry. And lesbian Labour MP Louisa Wall's lucky marble, drawn from the parliamentary ballot, is dedicated to giving them that right.

For most of us this is a bit of a yawn, hetero and homosexuals alike. It is not an institution that post-modern Kiwis tend to make a great success but we recognise its enduring appeal.

If gay and lesbian couples want to pledge their troth to each other for all earthly eternity then good on them. Straight folk have had in-laws visited upon them for millennia - it's high time gays shared the misery.

Any objection can only have a religious basis. And there is significant sanction suggested by many religions - including Christianity - against the concept of homosexuality let alone giving their unions an official blessing.

The last Labour government introduced the silly and illogical step of civil union partnerships - the marriage you are having when you are not having one. But this only further delineated a discrimination against persons based upon their sexuality. It's either the same treatment or not.

Like most people, I accept that you are born gay. And that they can no more resist their sexuality than I can resist mine.

I'm not sure about lesbian though: I sometimes think that's just an emotional reaction to we boorish and insensitive heterosexual males. Just joking: still your quills. Besides, where would the porn industry be without it?

So Louisa Wall's gay marriage bill is, really, no big deal. The vast majority of us really don't care. And really don't object, even if it's not our sexuality. The world did not fall in after homosexual law reform in 1986.

And yet NZ First leader Winston Peters has introduced a very important taihoa to the bill's passage. His basic argument is that if New Zealand is to have a public morality, then it should be the public who decide that.

Not 121 parliamentarians and not through the archaic conscience vote.

Indeed the conscience vote is inherently anti-democratic. It assumes that MPs have a unique intelligence, ethical viewpoint and wisdom that the rest of us simply don't possess. Which is, of course, bollocks.

And that whether gays can marry or not be left to a law-maker's lucky dip in the Office of the Clerk.

The proper approach is for the government to frame legislation on these issues, based upon the collective will. And that will is best expressed by national referendum.

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In that way the entire country may enter the debate, be informed and make our collective decision. We should set the moral framework for the society we live in, not 121 individuals chosen primarily upon their party allegiances. Parties that tend to eschew any policy on moral matters.

The conscience vote allows minority and religious groups to control our lives. It is seeking to stop gay and lesbian couples having the same rights as the rest of us.

If it is our morality, then let us determine it.

- Sunday Star Times

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